Red Cross: Many Plan to Give to Charity this Season Despite Slow Economy

A telephone survey of 1,020 adults conducted earlier this fall found that even though 67 percent of Americans didn’t think the economic downturn would last this long, they still want to give to charities.

Even as the nation weathers an economic downturn for a third straight holiday season, the majority of Americans are more committed than ever to charitable giving, according to a new American Red Cross poll.

A telephone survey of 1,020 adults conducted earlier this fall found that even though 67 percent of Americans didn’t think the economic downturn would last this long, they still want to give to charities, with more than seven out of 10 saying they expect to donate more or about the same this holiday season as they did last year.

“Despite the difficult economy Americans want to give to help others in need,” said Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern. “With so many people out of work, they want to give something that means something.”

Other key findings include:

  • Four in five (80 percent) of respondents felt their finances are either the same or worse than they were last year.
  • Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe that because of the economy, it’s important to give something to charity. That’s a 10 percentage point increase over the 58 percent who felt that way last year.
  • More than half (55 percent) of Americans say they feel bad about spending money on gifts people might not use.
  • Four in five (79 percent) agreed that they would rather have a charitable donation in their honor than get a gift they wouldn’t use.
  • About one in five (19 percent) of respondents plan on giving blood this holiday season.
  • Nearly six in 10 (57 percent) plan to give to charity between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

However, of those who would not be donating to charity, most say they either can’t afford do it or they have already given their charitable gifts for the year. More than a third (36 percent) of people say they are not planning to make a financial donation this holiday season, and nearly half of them (49 percent) say it’s because they can’t spare the money right now.

This is the third year the Red Cross has conducted a holiday-giving national survey, and this new survey shows that people continue to cut back on their holiday spending in a number of areas. The 2011 survey found that 45 percent were planning to cut back on spending for travel and for holiday decorations, 40 percent were reducing spending on parties, and more than a third (35 percent) were cutting back on gifts. The area seeing the smallest reduction was charitable donations, as about a quarter (26 percent) said they were planning to cut back in this area.

However, this cost cutting comes with some guilt: 43 percent of Americans reported feeling badly about spending less on gifts for friends and family.

Click here to read the entire survey.

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